Murderer must have sexual predator hearing, judge says

TACOMA — A convicted killer who served his prison term and was then charged with an earlier killing in California must undergo a sexual predator commitment hearing, a judge has decided.

The civil proceeding against Joseph M. Nissensohn, 57, was set Friday for Oct. 13 by Pierce County Superior Court Judge Katherine Stolz. Lawyers expect it to run three weeks or longer.

The judge rejected arguments by Nissensohn’s lawyer, David LaCross, who said Nissensohn could not be committed indefinitely as a violent sexual predator because there had been no special finding to that effect when he was convicted in 1991 of second-degree murder in the stabbing of Sally Jo Tsaggaris, 46.

Prosecutors said Nissensohn stabbed Tsaggaris during a drug-fueled night of sex in the back of a van in Tillicum, south of Tacoma, with his soon-to-be wife watching.

The state brought commitment proceedings after Nissensohn completed his prison term for that killing, and Stolz gave prosecutors the green light to proceed after reviewing a report in which Richard Packard, a psychologist and expert in sex offender treatment, concluded that Nissensohn has five mental disorders, including sexual sadism and pedophilia.

Nissensohn was charged in late January with killing Kathy Graves, 15, who vanished from her home in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., in 1989. Her remains were found near a trailhead nearly a year after she was last seen alive.

According to a 66-page report filed by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, a psychologist who evaluated Nissensohn wrote that he befriended a young girl named Kathy from South Lake Tahoe in 1989 and introduced her to LSD.

Nissensohn’s ex-wife told police in Florida he went into the woods with the girl to have sex in August 1989, then hurried back to the car alone minutes later.

Authorities in Monterey County, California, have said Nissensohn also is under investigation in the killing of two girls, ages 13 and 14, whose decomposed bodies were found in a remote rural area near Seaside in 1981.

Nissensohn’s former wife said he also was involved in two killings in Oklahoma and one in Nevada, but court filings provide no further details.

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